White versus black; women in despair

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Harriet Jacobs writes her own atrocious story in the autobiographic book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. She writes the following; "Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women" (Jacobs, 88). With her work Jacobs shows that the evils of slavery are worse for a woman just because of their gender. She exemplifies the imbalance of what society dictated should be the proper role for women in the Nineteenth century. As well as how this contradicted with slavery and thus preventing women from fulfilling exactly these roles. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl highlight these double standards that are put upon white women and black women. White women versus black women is a major theme throughout the book with Harriet Jacobs in the centre. Another important theme in the book is virtue and Jacobs uses herself to describe how hard it was for a black female slave to maintain this. Circumstances prevented her to keep her much cherished virtue and caused a conflict within herself. For women of that time expectations resided in four areas: obedience, purity, domesticity and religiosity. However the conditions that female slaves lived in were quite opposed to these virtues and standards set by society. Females slaves were denied any of these virtues resulting in the taking of their identities; their sense of womanhood. This was another way in which slavery eliminated the values of slaves. And a constant struggle for Jacobs throughout the book; she wants to stay true to her beliefs. Her inability to stay true to her beliefs cause her to feel guilty and insecure about her decisions. Religiosity was considered very important in that era, however to be pious and gain religious insight you would need to be ...

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...Jacobs refuses to let her master destroy her body and soul and subsequently suffers greatly to escape his claws. Slavery would best be described as the complete annihilation of the individual being. Female slaves would be stripped down of their sense of self and forced into complete subservience. This submissiveness was something that Jacobs could not live with and deemed unfair. With the threatening of her religiosity, purity and domesticity she stood up and rebelled. These were the areas that were considered to make-up a woman in the 1800s, however exactly also the areas that were denied to a female slave to acquire or practice. Looking at the experiences of Harriet Jacobs throughout her life and described in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl it is fair to state that she wanted to stay true to her morals, however circumstances prevented her from doing so.
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